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Clinton, Castro: Howdy but No Shake

September 7, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Fidel Castro was excluded from the invitation list for President Clinton’s diplomatic reception for world leaders Thursday but the Cuban leader managed to exchange a few words with the president, anyway.

Castro approached Clinton on Wednesday at the end of a luncheon of the United Nations Millennium Summit, a gathering of about 160 world leaders. ``They exchanged a few words. It was nothing substantive,″ said White House press secretary Joe Lockhart. National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley called it ``a momentary exchange.″

``There was no handshake,″ Lockhart said.

Crowley said Castro was among a number of leaders who were not invited to a reception hosted by Clinton at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thursday night. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Cuba and maintains economic sanctions against Castro’s government.

``Not every participant in the Millennium Summit was invited,″ Crowley said. ``There are countries around the world that we have serious concerns about such as their support for terrorism. And we didn’t think it was appropriate to invite them to a reception hosted by the president of the United States.″

He said, for example, that officials from Iraq and Libya were not invited.

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